Siddhartha Mukherjee, a physician who has redefined public discourse on human health, will deliver the main address at USC’s 135th commencement ceremony May 11.

Mukherjee is best known for his 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. It was turned into a three-part documentary by Ken Burns and included among Time magazine’s 100 best nonfiction books of the past century.

His writings on the historical aspects of disease and the philosophy of medicine addresses medicine’s most pressing issues, from expressing the governing principles of the medical profession to deciphering the fundamental genetic code that defines us as human beings. The latest work by the USC 2018 commencement speaker, The Gene: An Intimate History, delves into the mysterious master-code that defines humans.

Groundbreaking studies of cancer cells
A Rhodes scholar, Mukherjee serves as an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and as a staff cancer physician at Columbia University Medical Center. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, such as Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine and The New York Times, and he serves as editor-in-chief of Tonic, the digital health news platform for Vice Media.

Mukherjee’s achievements as a writer and educator build upon his exceptional career as a renowned medical researcher. His groundbreaking studies into the composition and behavior of cancer cells have pushed the boundaries of modern medicine. Through his research, he has enabled the development of new treatments that reach beyond the pharmaceutical model toward a diverse array of key biological and environmental therapies.

Approximately 15,000 degrees will be conferred during USC’s commencement this year, including more than 1,500 doctorate degrees, at the main ceremony in Alumni Park and satellite ceremonies across the University Park and Health Sciences campuses.

For the first time, commencement ceremonies will be held at USC Village for the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC and the USC Gould School of Law.

The USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Academy and Bovard College will have their first commencement ceremonies this year.

— Ron Mackovich